Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quilted Traditions

vintage quilt
Winter Quilt Show
Riverton, WY
February 2016
The Winter Quilt Show had several vintage quilts on display, and it was the signatures on the blocks of this particular quilt that captured my attention. The quilt, owned by Jacque Harris, was given to her grandmother when she and her husband moved from Missouri to Pavillion. WY.

The friendship/signature quilt clearly captured the cultural tradition of the time, as nearly every signature block did not identify the woman who signed it, but the identity of her spouse.

I remember my mom and neighbor ladies were identified by their husbands' names as if they did not have an individual identity. My mother signed legal documents and checks with "Mrs." plus my father's name many years after my dad died. It was simply the way it was in those days.

Fast forward into the late 1960s when I, too, made a signature quilt. I asked women to sign their names on the quilt blocks, which I later embroidered. Only one woman signed with "Mrs." plus her husband's name.

Quilts are more than pieces of fabric sewn together: they are curators of cultural traditions and history.


  1. What a fascinating insight into the times! I have a signature quilt that some friends gave me after the birth of one of my sons, and none of the women signed their names with a "Mrs." in front.

  2. Very interesting tidbit of history here. I don't remember any of my female relatives signing their name as "Mrs. John Smith." But, then, most of my relatives were fairly feisty and independent!!

  3. My mother also signed her name with Mrs. and my dad's name. It is an interesting cultural observation how their identities were all about the husband. I recently had a friend retire after 46 years in education. She said she doesn't know who she is anymore because her whole identity was wrapped around her career.

  4. Truly works of art and a history of time.

    I don't think I've ever signed my name by using Mrs. and my husband's first name.

  5. Interesting... I think of myself as Mrs.....but don't know if I have signed my signature lately that way...

  6. this was very interesting. I remember my mother always signing Mrs. and my dad's name. I think I've only done it once or twice. Times do change.. and sometimes I wonder if it's for the better.
    Blessings, Betsy

  7. I don't recall ever signing my name with the "Mrs." I love the fact that now, some women are not even changing their last names after marriage, but keeping their own.

  8. The quilts are so sweet! Our daughter-in-law made us a quilt with the names and birth dates of all our children and grandchildren embroidered each square. I love it so much. It is precious to us! The conversation about Mrs. is interesting because I didn't realize until now that I don't ever sign my name that way. I've used my husband's name for 56 years but never for signing.

  9. fascinating Nancy and Yes my mom was always MRS Mike R. Never her own name! I think I have read that the Miss Manners type of rule : You are MRS. (husband's name) until he passes. Then you may be MRs. (your own first name and last) Then there was the whole MS. phase and the dreaded hyphenated names. It was tough to have babies with long hyphenated names in the nursery! We often ran out of space. QUilts are historic

  10. We had a signature quilt at the Museum, so very interesting to read the names:)

  11. I imagine part of the reason for a woman using her husband's name as a signature was a) she had a husband and b) for many years women couldn't even open a bank account without a man co-signing. UGH. I don't remember when that ended but I am thankful for every step women have made toward equality.


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